Mangoes, A Sleepy Time Lord, and the Benefit of a Best Friend's Opinion
"Doctor..." said Rose slowly one evening, placing the book she'd been reading on her lap.
"Hmm?" he answered distractedly, his head jerking up and his eyes flickering open. He'd been dozing next to her on the sofa, his arm around her shoulders, holding her to him as she read.
"What's the time?"
He yawned and closed his eyes again. "Nearly midnight."
Her brow furrowed thoughtfully.
"I know what you're thinking," he murmured.
"Don't know what you mean," she denied.
"You're doing that frowny face thing, I can tell," he countered.
"I was just..."
"Wondering why I'm so sleepy tonight," he filled in for her.
She swallowed hard, worried. "Yeah, exactly."
He exhaled roughly. "It's a bit embarrassing."
Rose arched an eyebrow and flung her book on the floor so that she could get to her knees, twisting her body to face him. "Okay, so now I'm really curious. What's the matter?"
He arm had slid from around her with her movements, and he let it drop to his side. "I don't really want to tell you, because then you'll be aware of another one of my weaknesses," he mumbled. "And goodness' knows you've got enough power over me as it is."
She grinned at that and asked innocently, "Have I?"
He opened his eyes and fixed her with a dubious gaze. "You know you do."
"Well, you've got to tell me now," she pointed out. "Otherwise I'll only use my evil powers to force you tell me anyway!" She waved her hands in front of his face mystically.
He laughed and grabbed her hands, yanking her forwards, startling her. Nearly nose to nose, he whispered, "You must promise to never tell anyone else what I am about to tell you."
A little breathless, she replied just as quietly, "I promise."
He let go of her hands and she retreated a bit, aware that hovering over him like that was doing a very-not-good thing to her heart rate.
"Right," he sighed resolutely, wincing in embarrassment. "Mangoes."
Rose eyebrows jumped up her forehead. "I'm sorry?"
"Mangoes make me sleepy," he told her seriously.
"M-mangoes?" she stuttered, trying not to laugh.
"Mangoes," he confirmed, nodding gravely.
"And you've, what, just eaten one?" she asked.
"Earlier this evening I did, yeah. It's made me more tired than usual, hence why I keep nodding off. Sorry."
He shrugged. "I've no idea. It's always been this way – every regeneration. I've run tests on them to see what exactly it is that's in them that make me want to sleep, but alas, despite me being a genius and everything, I have found no conclusive results. It doesn't make sense."
"No, I mean, why did you eat one if you knew it would make you sleepy?"
"Well, sometimes I eat them deliberately so that I get a nice deep sleep."
She folded her arms. "And you couldn't bear the thought of listening to my conversation all evening so you decided to eat a mango and fall asleep instead?"
"No, no, no I didn't say that – did I say that? No, I didn't." He tugged on his ear awkwardly. "Anyway, you weren't talking to me; you were reading!"
Her eyes twinkled dangerously at him. "Not the point, my friend," she declared.
He chuckled nervously and startled her again by placing his hands on her waist, using his grip on her as leverage as he pulled himself into a sitting position at the edge of the sofa. He kept his hands right where they were once he was done, and she didn't protest. "Rose, I had my reasons for wanting to fall asleep this evening, and not one of them was because I didn't want to listen to you. I always want to listen to you."
Her lips twitched but she kept her arms folded and questioned, "Alright, then; what are your reasons?"
He glanced away awkwardly. "Um...they're sort of a secret," he answered.
"Listen, I don't really care whether you ate a mango and wanted to sleep or not; I'm just curious as to how you can constantly have a go at me for sleeping my life away instead of talking to you, and yet when I'm awake you want to be asleep..." she replied.
He was completely aware that she was using that tone of voice she had, the one that could make him do just about anything, to manipulate him into answering her. He sniffed purposefully and refused to reply.
She continued, "I mean, surely you could've just eaten a mango after I'd gone to bed, right? Then we'd both be asleep at the same time and neither of us would have to sit in here bored and alone."
He opened his mouth to reply but accidentally yawned loudly instead. "Sorry," he smiled sheepishly, then tried again, murmuring, "You wanted to...to..."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "Eh?"
"When we're in here, on this sofa, reading, you always want to cuddle," he clarified.
Rose stared at him. He stared back, taking in her tightened jaw, and realised that he was perhaps phrasing things wrong. Especially as now she was unfolding her arms to take hold of his hands and remove them from her waist.
"Ah. No – wait, hold on a second, Rose," he said hurriedly, as she picked up her book and shifted down the other end of the sofa, ignoring his protests. "I didn't mean it to sound like I don't want you to want to cuddle..." he trailed off, gulping. How did he get himself into this awkward situation? He knew he shouldn't've told her about the bloody sleep-inducing qualities of mangoes. Rubbing at his eyes tiredly, he sighed and crawled over to her, seeing that he wasn't going to get her attention any other way.
Blinking up at him in surprise, she huffed, "Isn't this a little too close for you, Doctor?"
He rolled his eyes and slid his arm beneath her knees, lifting her legs up and turning her sideways onto the sofa, before lying down next to her.
"What are you doing?" she exclaimed, feigning exasperation.
He flung his arm across her stomach and tucked her carefully against him.
"What are you spooning me for?" she demanded next, sounding baffled.
"Rose," he murmured, his chin resting between her neck and shoulder, causing his breath to brush against her ear. "I like it that you like to cuddle. I like it so much that I was going to use the mango-situation to my advantage this evening."
"I don't get it," she mumbled, trying not to breathe in and out too shakily, aware that he would hear how having him pressed against her like this was affecting her.
"Well, if I fell asleep, you wouldn't be able to leave," he whispered.
"You're too considerate to risk waking me up by moving. So you'd be stuck. In my arms. Until morning."
Her breath hitched in her throat and she hastily coughed in an attempt to disguise it. "Doctor?" she prompted, for further elaboration.
Sighing wistfully, he trailed his fingertips in a slow circle on her stomach. "I wanted to see what it would be like to wake up with you," he confessed quietly.
"Why not just ask me?" she croaked, her throat dry. "Or...you know...go about it the normal way?"
"What's the normal way?" he mumbled sleepily.
"I...I s'pose...well. You wouldn't want – I mean, it's – you're different, I s'pose, so I guess we wouldn't – couldn't...Doctor? You still awake?"
He didn't answer, and she let out a breath of relief, glad that she didn't have to figure out how to reply to his question. She was suddenly feeling rather knackered herself thanks to the effort of trying to hold a sane conversation with the man currently sleeping with his arm slung across her and his face buried in the crook of her neck. Silently hoping that things wouldn't be awkward in the morning, she closed her eyes and let herself doze off too.